Odds of a perfect NCAA bracket are near impossible: DePaul University mathematician

According to Bergen, “It would be more likely for Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry to hit 414 free throws in a row than it would be to pick a perfect bracket by guessing.” (Image courtesy of DePaul University)
​​​​​CHICAGO — The odds of picking a perfect bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball March Madness championship tournament are a staggering less than one in 9.2 quintillion (that’s 9,223,372,036,854,775,808), according to Jeff Bergen, mathematics professor at DePaul University.

“It would be more likely for Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry to hit 414 free throws in a row than it would be to pick a perfect bracket by guessing,” said Bergen. “The current NBA record is 97 free throws in a row.

“It would also be easier to win the Mega Millions lottery two times in a row, buying one ticket both times, than it would be to get a perfect bracket,” Bergen determined.

College sports analysts and bracketology experts who study the teams, coaches and players have the challenging task each year of trying to determine the outcome of 63 games. Experts provide insight into March Madness and analysis even before teams are chosen and ranked for the tournament on Selection Sunday, March 13, this year.

Five things more likely to happen than picking a perfect bracket, according to Bergen:

• Steph Curry making 414 free throws in a row. (NBA record is 97.)

• Tom Brady completing 96 passes in a row. (NFL record is 25.)

• Babe Ruth hitting home runs in 17 consecutive at bats. (MLB record is 4.)

• Nolan Ryan striking out 31 batters in a row. (MLB record is 10.)

• Your favorite football team winning the next 13 Super Bowls.

“It’s essentially impossible to guess a perfect bracket, but that’s no reason not to have fun with it,” Bergen said. “People still play to beat their friends or win their office pool. Just remember to enjoy yourself.”

The odds of picking a perfect bracket for the NCAA men's basketball March Madness championship tournament are a staggering less than one in 9.2 quintillion, according to mathematics professor Jeff Bergen. (Image courtesy of DePaul University)

Could basketball knowledge help your odds?

Bergen said “yes” but it is still a long shot. “Suppose you know that a No. 1 seed has never lost to a No. 16 seed in the men’s tournament. That would help improve your odds. With additional knowledge of basketball and the history of the tournament, the odds of picking a perfect bracket would be approximately one in 128 billion,” he said.

“As a math professor, I do enjoy having fun with this. But it is important to remember that although the numbers are astounding and far bigger than ones we come across in daily life, the math involved can be taught at the high school level,” he said. “Anyone interested in math can understand where all these numbers come from.” 
Watch Bergen break down numbers at http://depaulne.ws/MarchMadness_PR.

###

Source:
Jeff Bergen
773-325-4218

Media Contact:
Jon Cecero
jcecero@depaul.edu​
312-362-7640

​​​